Help for families in Dorset

Home-Start North Dorset provides essential support to local families going through a difficult time in their lives. To help ensure families in the area receive the support they need, we have provided the charity with a grant from our Community Fund 2022.

We spoke to Vix Madel, who is the Volunteer Coordinator at Home-Start North Dorset, to find out more.

What is the charity's aim?

There are a number of reasons a family may need help, including mental health, domestic abuse or rural isolation. Our vision is to make sure every parent in North Dorset has the support they need to give their children the best possible start in life.

Who benefits from the charity's support?

We support families living in North Dorset with a child under the age of five going through challenging times. Our support revolves around parents supporting parents, primarily in their own homes by helping them to find coping mechanisms.

How do your volunteers help families?

Parent volunteers are recruited, trained then matched with a family. They offer a confidential listening ear, help with routines, an extra pair of hands, encouragement and more! One Mum recently said: “No matter how bad the week had been, knowing my volunteer was coming on Wednesday kept me going.”

Family smiling in their living room

Has the number of families seeking support increased?

We experienced a record number of referrals in September last year and have seen a steady increase since then. Due to the lockdowns and restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems the needs of families have grown, with more people self-referring and citing mental health as a primary reason for wanting support.

How will our funding help?

We can support up to 50 home-visiting volunteers at any one time, but it costs between £1,200 and £1,500 a year to recruit, train, support and pay the expenses of each volunteer. Wessex Water’s funding will help us to cover some of these expenses, which will help us to support more families.

What do you have in store for the future?

We aim to continue supporting families throughout North Dorset, while also expanding our help into South Somerset where funding has been secured to develop a home visiting service and postnatal group to support naval and marine families based in Yeovilton.